Information Manipulation and Reform in Authoritarian Regimes

Forthcoming in Political Science Research and Methods

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-21

31 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2014 Last revised: 18 May 2015

Jidong Chen

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - Business School

Yiqing Xu

University of California, San Diego

Date Written: May 17, 2015

Abstract

We develop a theory of how an authoritarian regime interactively uses information manipulation, such as propaganda or censorship, and policy improvement to maintain social stability. The government can depict the status quo policy more popularly supported than it actually is, while at the same time please citizens directly by enacting a costly reform. We show that the government's ability of making policy concessions reduces its incentive to manipulate information and improves its credibility. Anticipating a higher chance of policy concessions and less information manipulation, citizens are more likely to believe the government-provided information and support the regime. Our model provides an explanation for the puzzling fact that reform coexists with selective information disclosure in authoritarian countries like China.

Keywords: propaganda, censorship, information disclosure, reform, authoritarian governance, institutional design, game theory

JEL Classification: D7,D8

Suggested Citation

Chen, Jidong and Xu, Yiqing, Information Manipulation and Reform in Authoritarian Regimes (May 17, 2015). Forthcoming in Political Science Research and Methods; MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2487437 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2487437

Jidong Chen (Contact Author)

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - Business School ( email )

No.19 Xinwai Str
Haidian District
Beijing, 100875
China

Yiqing Xu

University of California, San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
#0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://yiqingxu.org/

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